? on cleaning & ammo testing

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Belligerents
Mar 23, 2002
1,838
244
169
46
Wenatchee WA
Bear with me here, folks. While not new to guns, and I've probably gone down the rabbit hole of centerfire precision reloading as far as most... my experience with rimfires in general is a little (okay, a *lot*) more hill-billy: buy a gun, buy whatever is available locally, and go shoot. If dropped in the dirt, hose it off with WD40. Maybe patch it out with a nice 3-piece aluminum cleaning rod once a year with some Hoppes #9 ;)

Trying to move forward, but not quite sure what specific direction to take. I believe I have a Possum Hollow bore guide somewhere out in the shop for my Mk II, and I have a long Dewey .22 cal rod (along with patches, jags, brushes) that I use with my .223 Rem gun(s). Also have a VFG jag and pellets for the same. Most if not all of the chemicals I have are pretty much oriented around removing carbon build-up in centerfires - not sure how much that will or won't translate to cleaning rimfires. I've seen a lot of widely varying talk about cleaning - every outing, every hundred rounds, every few hundred, when accuracy drops off... well at least the lack of consensus is consistent! ;)

Similarly, never really done any specific ammo testing. I get the general idea... find something that works, and then buy a bunch of it. Retest when you run out - similar to what we do with lot #'s of bullets, powder, primers in centerfire. Part of my confusion in this department is the lot# aspect of loaded ammo. Assuming a person buys an assortment of ammo (recommendations, online I assume?) for testing, how likely is it that you're going to be able to find that exact same lot # in reasonable quantity? What constitutes a normal quantity to purchase in one go? 1k rds? 5k? More? Is there typically more (or less) variance between brand/model (say CCI SV vs. CenterX vs. Wolf Match) than between lot #s of one given brand/model? Specifically, if you test a half dozen or more different brands/models, and find a clear 'winner'... but then can't buy as much of it as you'd want... how likely is a similar lot # of the same brand/model to perform the same?

If you're starting more or less from ground zero, what's a reasonable amount of which brands/models of ammo to purchase? I'm guessing here the usual answer isn't "buy 10k of everything available so you have plenty left over after testing". Might be 'ideal', but doesn't sound very reasonable ;)

Your patience is much appreciated!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rover31

Shawn1492

Sergeant of the Hide
Belligerents
Minuteman
Apr 10, 2018
122
60
34
Colorado
With rimfire ammo, when switching between brands I like to put 10 fouling shots down the barrel before I shot a group for record. You’ll notice the nicer ammo has oil or lube on the lead bullet.
I haven’t noticed a difference in performance between lots of Eley contact but maybe I’m not good enough to see a difference between lots.
CCI standard velocity I do notice a difference. Not much you can do about that. But nothing wrong with having tons of good but not great ammo on hand for letting friends shoot.
 

pete_f

Private
Minuteman
Feb 27, 2019
17
7
6
New Jersey
Speaking from the perspective of a competitive Smallbore (both 3P and prone) shooter, most successful folks will clean the rifle at the end of every day. What they do does vary some but most will use some combination of solvent, patches and a brush.
For ammo testing, the suppliers that cater to competitive shooters will tell you how much of each lot of ammo that they have is available.
There was a time when they would hold ammo for you while you tested but today, plan to test and buy within a day of when your test lots arrive or it may be gone.
In general, speaking of the 3 manufacturers of competition grade ammo, Eley, Lapua and RWS, their products will have similar performance at each similar price point. The real variable is between lots. For example, because lot A from mfg. A works great in your rifle does not mean that lot B from the same mfg. will shoot the same. This is a constant across all manufacturers and all grades including the top line most expensive ones.
Most folks will buy a box or 2 of as many lots/grades as they are comfortable with to test and shoot it however they think will tell them what they want to know. If you are considering pursuing Smallbore F class, I will suggest that you test at 100 yards. In general, ammo that is competitive at 50 yards does not guarantee equal performance at 100 yards.
Most active competitive shooters will buy ammo by the case but usually not more that 2 or 3 cases of a lot. Prone matches eat a lot of ammo, typically 500 or so rounds for a 2 day match. I would say Smallbore F class would be similar. In an average busy year of all prone matches, I will expect to use 4 to 5 cases between matches and training.
Hopefully, this is more helpful than confusing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: slodsm

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Belligerents
Mar 23, 2002
1,838
244
169
46
Wenatchee WA
the suppliers that cater to competitive shooters
Any particular ones that you recommend? Champion's Choice? Creedmoor Sports? I went thru over @ CC and loaded up the ol' shopping cart with a box each of expensive, mid and cheap ammo from Lapua, Eley, RWS, SK, Wolf, CCI... that added up fast! I noticed that CC lists how many boxes they have in stock of each... how much of that is typically one lot #? Are those suppliers usually pretty good about shipping all one lot#?

Do you typically clean between different ammo brands when testing? Thorough cleaning (back to bare metal), light pass with a brush or boresnake, or just shoot X amount of rounds? How many rounds after a thorough cleaning do you expect to need for the barrel to settle back in? I realize that probably barrel to barrel, ammo to ammo, just like with centerfire... but ballpark guesstimate? 2? 5? 10? 20+?

This should be interesting... don't think I've ever bought more than a brick at a time in my life, and some of those lasted me *years*. Then again, some lasted a month... just depended on what I was into at the time. I can barely fathom going thru a case of 'premium' ammo, much less 4-5! Guess we'll see

I guess the thing that kind of bugs me is that lets say I order in a box of each of a dozen different 'likely suspects', and find that brand X model Y lot #nnn is the bee's knees in my rifle. I order as much as I can afford, yay. Now what to do with the rest of the 'losers'? Do you typically shoot an entire box of each brand/model during testing? If there is as much difference between lot #s as you indicated, and they move as fast as you say... it's not like those remnants are going to be much good for *future* testing, are they?
 

tansinator

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
May 29, 2007
1,421
105
169
49
Signal Mountain, TN
The "losers" are usually plenty good for practice on windy days. Cleaning the chamber after each shooting session is important to not get the dreaded "ring". I will sometimes go 800-1000 rounds before cleaning barrel. Target will let you know when its time. Others clean barrel after every session. No cleaning when changing ammo here. It will just take "x" number of shots to settle in. Could be 10, could be 30, no way to know for sure.
 
Last edited:

Eoddave27

Sergeant
Belligerents
Minuteman
Jan 9, 2018
840
716
99
44
Bel Air, MD
Milanuk, what kind of shooting are you doing? I ask because someone doing rimfire F class and someone doing NRL 22 need different levels of accuracy. I shoot PRS 22 competitions and all the time and money spent testing a whole bunch of different lots of ammo is wasted time and money in my case. I found a flavor of Eley my rifle liked and bought a case. There is some small variation lot to lot but not enough to matter. My Tikka seems to love Eley ammo and My CZ hates it. All my CZ will shoot is Lapua/SK ammo so I bought a bunch of SK ammo for it. Now if you are shooting bench rest where that 1/16” smaller group makes a big difference it is a whole different story.
 

Nik H

Constantly Learning
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jan 22, 2014
6,943
6,444
219
I have a resource posted that discusses the whole rimfire cleaning story. It is written by Steve Boetler who runs the Anschutz custom shop in the US. I find it to be pretty factual.

I have tried a lot of ammo through my Annie and it is kind of an eye opening experience. The reality that I have seen is that smaller groups are really a function of the number of flyers I see. Rimfire ammunition to me is the number of flyers in a given population. I get really amazing results when I look at group size with SK Rifle Match or Wolf MT Extra. When I switch from that to RWS R50, I see a slight decrease in group size but fewer flyers. Going from R50 to Tenex may be a little better again but flyers again rule the day.

Where am I going...I don't think cleaning is a driver. It is a 2nd decimal point problem. This is based on a degree of reasonableness though. Don't tell me that you haven't cleaned your bore in 5,000 rounds. If you clean reasonably, the consistency of the ammo you use takes precedence.

If you are competing in 22 BR, I am not so sure how it is done. The level of accuracy exceeds my capabilities but I would find it difficult to believe that cleaning is even in the top 5 factors that contribute to your success.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: pete_f

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Belligerents
Mar 23, 2002
1,838
244
169
46
Wenatchee WA
Milanuk, what kind of shooting are you doing? I ask because someone doing rimfire F class and someone doing NRL 22 need different levels of accuracy.
Ummm... both? :oops:

Probably NRL22, with a side of rimfire F-class. Not 100% sure how serious I'm going to get about either in the long run. Kinda doubt I'm going to spring for a Vudoo, much less a full custom built off a Stiller 2500... but incrementally upgrading / rebarreling something else (Tikka/CZ/Kidd) is a distinct possibility.
 

pete_f

Private
Minuteman
Feb 27, 2019
17
7
6
New Jersey
Most serious competitive shooters will only test ammo that they will use in a match. In general, that would be different lots of the top 2 grades from any of the 3 manufacturers, Eley, Lapua and RWS. I will typically shoot 2 or 3 10 shot groups of each lot and pick from that. The factory test centers will shoot a 10 shot group of each lot and if it looks promising will shoot a few more to confirm but usually not more that a total of 40 shots.
Each manufacturer uses a different lube on the bullets so it is probably a good practice to clean when changing brands during testing.
Barrels all behave differently after cleaning. With the one that I am currently using I have a pretty high level of confidence after 4 or 5 shots though I have had others that required a few more.
I will typically test multiple rifles so I usually don't have much left over but as noted above, whats left becomes practice ammo.
Most lots consist of 3-6 cases from what I have seen. I have never gotten anything other than exactly what I ordered from any of the suppliers, including Champions Choice that I buy from.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Nik H

littlepod

Newbie
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Oct 16, 2012
1,294
610
219
Kirkland, WA
The "losers" are usually plenty good for practice on windy days. Cleaning the chamber after each shooting session is important to not get the dreaded "ring". I will sometimes go 800-1000 rounds before cleaning barrel. Target will let you know when its time. Others clean barrel after every session. No cleaning when changing ammo here. It will just take "x" number of shots to settle in. Could be 10, could be 30, no way to know for sure.
I've been told to not clean until accuracy drops off... so I haven't cleaned. I do wipe down the breach area to get any gunk out and I clean off my bolt face, but I don't clean unless accuracy drops off ~ 1000-2000 rounds, and then I'll do patches/soak until they come out white. I might not be doing enough to not have a ring build up though...
 

tansinator

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
May 29, 2007
1,421
105
169
49
Signal Mountain, TN
I've been told to not clean until accuracy drops off... so I haven't cleaned. I do wipe down the breach area to get any gunk out and I clean off my bolt face, but I don't clean unless accuracy drops off ~ 1000-2000 rounds, and then I'll do patches/soak until they come out white. I might not be doing enough to not have a ring build up though...
Chamber and just in front to not get the ring.
 

Eoddave27

Sergeant
Belligerents
Minuteman
Jan 9, 2018
840
716
99
44
Bel Air, MD
I’ll tell you what has worked for me but one thing I have noticed is that everyone seems to have their own formula with rimfire. It has all the nuances, science and Black magic of reloading centerfire in a smaller package.

As far as ammo goes I have been buying a few types of quality ammo to test. I typically just get Eley and SK. I don’t bother buying any of the high dollar ammo from Eley or Lapua. If it’s so expensive I can’t afford to shoot it who cares how great it shoots out of my rifle. For the Eley I usually test Contact, Force, and Edge. For the SK I test SK Standard Plus, Rifle match and Pistol match. Chances are one of those will shoot well. When I’m testing the only time I worry about changing ammo is when I shoot ammo with a different kind of lube. For instance going from Eley Edge to Eley Contact is fine. Now if I switch to SK I usually need to shoot about 10 rounds before the new ammo will settle in. When I have shot with a chronograph those first 5-6 rounds velocities are all over the place. Once I find a type of ammo my rifle likes I buy a bunch of it. If I can get the same lot number that is great but for the most part I don’t worry about it that much. With the Eley I have been using I notice a very slight POI change from lot to lot but not much of a difference in group size. Now from lot to lot of SK I see huge POI changes. Sometimes as much as 1 1/2” or more at 100 yards. I just make sure that if I do have multiple lots of an ammo I keep them separate. In addition to the ammo I tested that the rifle likes I usually keep a case of CCI SV on hand for positional shooting practice. It doesn’t shoot as well as the premium but it is good enough when I am balancing on a barricade. At $20 for a brick it is a lot cheaper and you don’t have to worry about burning through a lot of ammo your rifle really likes for practice.

For cleaning I pull a bore snake through my rifle after every shooting session and use a brush to clean the chamber. I try to do a good cleaning every 1000-1500 rounds. The one exception to this is the day before a match. At the end of my range session I will pull a bore snake through my rifle, brush the chamber then fire 10-20 fouling shots before I put my rifle up. Those first couple rounds through my rifle after any kind of cleaning usually go a little crazy so I get them out of the way before a match.
 

littlepod

Newbie
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Oct 16, 2012
1,294
610
219
Kirkland, WA
I’ll tell you what has worked for me but one thing I have noticed is that everyone seems to have their own formula with rimfire. It has all the nuances, science and Black magic of reloading centerfire in a smaller package.

As far as ammo goes I have been buying a few types of quality ammo to test. I typically just get Eley and SK. I don’t bother buying any of the high dollar ammo from Eley or Lapua. If it’s so expensive I can’t afford to shoot it who cares how great it shoots out of my rifle. For the Eley I usually test Contact, Force, and Edge. For the SK I test SK Standard Plus, Rifle match and Pistol match. Chances are one of those will shoot well. When I’m testing the only time I worry about changing ammo is when I shoot ammo with a different kind of lube. For instance going from Eley Edge to Eley Contact is fine. Now if I switch to SK I usually need to shoot about 10 rounds before the new ammo will settle in. When I have shot with a chronograph those first 5-6 rounds velocities are all over the place. Once I find a type of ammo my rifle likes I buy a bunch of it. If I can get the same lot number that is great but for the most part I don’t worry about it that much. With the Eley I have been using I notice a very slight POI change from lot to lot but not much of a difference in group size. Now from lot to lot of SK I see huge POI changes. Sometimes as much as 1 1/2” or more at 100 yards. I just make sure that if I do have multiple lots of an ammo I keep them separate. In addition to the ammo I tested that the rifle likes I usually keep a case of CCI SV on hand for positional shooting practice. It doesn’t shoot as well as the premium but it is good enough when I am balancing on a barricade. At $20 for a brick it is a lot cheaper and you don’t have to worry about burning through a lot of ammo your rifle really likes for practice.

For cleaning I pull a bore snake through my rifle after every shooting session and use a brush to clean the chamber. I try to do a good cleaning every 1000-1500 rounds. The one exception to this is the day before a match. At the end of my range session I will pull a bore snake through my rifle, brush the chamber then fire 10-20 fouling shots before I put my rifle up. Those first couple rounds through my rifle after any kind of cleaning usually go a little crazy so I get them out of the way before a match.
Any specific brush? Nylon vs Bronze? I've never put a brush through my 22 yet, just wet/dry patches. If you brush the chamber, I am guessing you're scrubbing the chamber back and forth? Do then run a patch all the way through to get all the gunk you scraped off with the brush? When you say chamber, do you mean like the first 1" of the barrel?
 

Eoddave27

Sergeant
Belligerents
Minuteman
Jan 9, 2018
840
716
99
44
Bel Air, MD
I just use a bronze brush I have marked for depth. I put some no 9 on it put it in the chamber and give it a few turns. Seems to work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cuzz

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Belligerents
Mar 23, 2002
1,838
244
169
46
Wenatchee WA
@Eoddave27 that was something I was wondering about... where to draw the line on the ammo, relative to the gun.

This gun seems to like (so far) CCI SV, and Eley Club - both pretty inexpensive fodder as far as 'match' ammo goes. No SK or Wolf available locally, so I'll have to order some to try.
 

Eoddave27

Sergeant
Belligerents
Minuteman
Jan 9, 2018
840
716
99
44
Bel Air, MD
@Eoddave27 that was something I was wondering about... where to draw the line on the ammo, relative to the gun.

This gun seems to like (so far) CCI SV, and Eley Club - both pretty inexpensive fodder as far as 'match' ammo goes. No SK or Wolf available locally, so I'll have to order some to try.
It took me awhile to find the happy medium. It is easy to get pulled down the rabbit hole chasing smaller groups and spending a ton of money on ammo. I’m doing positional shooting. For me practicing getting stable on a barricade, transitions and everything that goes along with that is more important than that last little bit of accuracy. That 1/16” doesn’t really matter when I’m balancing on a tank trap shooting at a 2 moa target. For the most part Wolf ME, Eley Contact and SK Standard Plus have been my go to ammo. My rifle will like one of those. When I practice shooting at distance I use my good ammo so I am familiar with how it performs in various conditions. For everything inside 100 yards I just use CCI SV. I have tons of the stuff, it’s cheap and is good enough for practice.

Now if you start shooting F class it will be a whole different ball game. I tried shooting centerfire F class a few years ago and discovered that it just wasn’t for me. After that I started shooting PRS and PRS style 22 matches and haven’t looked back. One thing I will say is I have shot about every competitive shooting sport out there at one time and NRL/ Precision 22 is by far my favorite. It is a whole lot of fun and the crowd it draws is usually just a bunch of nice people who are there to have fun as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: littlepod

Nik H

Constantly Learning
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jan 22, 2014
6,943
6,444
219
I really don't think "drawing the line" is a good approach.

I tend to agree and use the same methods as @Eoddave27. I try a huge variety of ammo through my Annie and believe it or not, there is a lot of inexpensive ammo that shoots well. I am a huge fan of SK Rifle match. Do I shoot higher priced? Yes I do. I shoot R50 and Tenex but only when I have to. Hell...I shoot Aguila match and it isn't half bad for practice.

As I said in an earlier post, the group size is marginally better as ammo cost increases but the biggest benefit is the reduction of flyers.
 

littlepod

Newbie
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Oct 16, 2012
1,294
610
219
Kirkland, WA
Chasing smaller groups was fun for me in the beginning since I was new at shooting, and it was a combination of both me, the rifle, and the ammo. It was a pretty wasteful amount of ammo, and even if I did find something I liked, it wasn't like I could call Brownell's and order a lot # from them 2 weeks later.

If I had to do it again, which is both time and cost effective. Check Eley and SK to see which ammo it likes. Buy a box of each that you think you might want to long term pay for... I had some old boxes of Eley and SK at home, and it was very clear my new barrel did not like Eley, so I just went SK.

Bought 1 box of

SK Standard Plus
Rifle Match
Long Range Match
Biathlon Sport
Pistol Match Special.

This cost me $50.

Checked to see which one it generally liked vs price. Mine ended up liking SK Standard Plus and Pistol Match Special.

Order 2500-5000 rounds of that ammo. Be done.

If you are really picky and want to spend another week, then call up goodshootinginc and have them send you test lots. I asked for a test lot of SK Standard Plus. I got 4 test lots ~$30 with shipping. 1 of them considerably outperformed the others... like every other SK Standard Plus I shot was 1" groups, and this one was nailing .5". Called up goodshootinginc and asked them to send me 5000 of that lot.

So now my safe is stocked for a little while. I also ordered 2500 rounds of SK Pistol Match Special which performed about 15% better, and it wasn't that much more. Should get me through 6 months of matches and practice for me and my fiance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Nik H

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Belligerents
Mar 23, 2002
1,838
244
169
46
Wenatchee WA
@Nik H what I meant by the 'drawing the line' comment was whether it was *really* worth putting ammo costing $15-20+ a box thru a Sav Mk II ;) Given the # of options out there in the $5-10/box range, I'd be shocked if I can't find something that shoots reasonably well. The gun has been bedded (helped a bunch), has a better scope (helped some more), and I have a lighter trigger spring on the way (should help a little bit more still).

If I get any more serious about testing/shooting with *this* gun, I'll have to put one of my spare NF Comp 15-55x scopes on it and pull out the full-blown FTR bipod and rear bag ;)
 

Hoser

Ninja
Belligerents
Apr 12, 2005
1,304
249
169
109
East Africa
I do my lot testing here at the Olympic Training Center on electronic targets at 50 meters. Once I found a good lot, I bought a couple cases. There are some known good lots as well as known good velocities from a given machine.

The easiest way to get some different lot testing samples is to call Cathy or Dave at Good Shooting Inc. They can get you hooked up with Eley or Lapua ammo. Or send it down to Lapua or Eley and have them do it.

Once you find a good lot, order as much as you can afford. Normally in 5K cases.

As far as cleaning goes I clean a lot more often than some others. Usually every 250-300 rounds or after a match. If you get ahead of the really dirty barrel and stay there, it only takes a few passes with VFG pellets and some Kroil/Shooters Choice to get it clean.

While some like to wait until accuracy drops off to clean, I just take the 5 minutes and keep it clean. After cleaning, it only takes a few shots to settle in again.
 

Nik H

Constantly Learning
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jan 22, 2014
6,943
6,444
219
@Nik H what I meant by the 'drawing the line' comment was whether it was *really* worth putting ammo costing $15-20+ a box thru a Sav Mk II ;) Given the # of options out there in the $5-10/box range, I'd be shocked if I can't find something that shoots reasonably well. The gun has been bedded (helped a bunch), has a better scope (helped some more), and I have a lighter trigger spring on the way (should help a little bit more still).

If I get any more serious about testing/shooting with *this* gun, I'll have to put one of my spare NF Comp 15-55x scopes on it and pull out the full-blown FTR bipod and rear bag ;)
Got it...I agree that it is probably overkill. If you haven't tried Aguila Rifle Match and Wolf and SK. It would be a good thing to do as they are pretty affordable for the level of performance.

Good luck
 

tansinator

Gunny Sergeant
Belligerents
May 29, 2007
1,421
105
169
49
Signal Mountain, TN
@Nik H what I meant by the 'drawing the line' comment was whether it was *really* worth putting ammo costing $15-20+ a box thru a Sav Mk II ;) Given the # of options out there in the $5-10/box range, I'd be shocked if I can't find something that shoots reasonably well. The gun has been bedded (helped a bunch), has a better scope (helped some more), and I have a lighter trigger spring on the way (should help a little bit more still).

If I get any more serious about testing/shooting with *this* gun, I'll have to put one of my spare NF Comp 15-55x scopes on it and pull out the full-blown FTR bipod and rear bag ;)
The parallax on the nightforce may not focus/work at 50 yards. A weaver 36 power is cheap and all you need for F-class.